This case seeks monetary compensation for Saul Cisneros, who was illegally kept prisoner in the El Paso County Jail for almost four months after his daughter posted his bond.  The jail had refused to release Cisneros because federal immigration authorities had sent a detainer request, a document that is not a warrant and is not signed by a judge.  Cisneros is the lead plaintiff in the ACLU's class action that successfully obtained a permanent injunction prohibiting the jail's practice.  This claim for monetary compensation for Mr. Cisneros was originally filed with the class action for injunctive relief but then was litigated as a separate case by agreement of the parties.    After almost six years of litigation, Mr. Cisneros finally received compensation.  

The class action relied solely on Colorado law.  Similarly, Cisneros initially sought compensation solely for the Colorado tort of false imprisonment.  

Sheriff Elder claimed that the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act allowed Cisneros to sue only for negligence, not for the intentional act of keeping him imprisoned without legal authority.  Elder filed a motion to dismiss, which the district court denied.  Elder appealed, and the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed.  Cisneros v. Elder, 490 P.3d 985 (Colo. Ct. App. 2020). The Colorado Supreme Court then held 7-0 that Mr. Cisneros stated a valid claim of false imprisonment. Cisneros v. Elder, 522 P.3d 255 (Colo. 2022).   After one more stop at the Court of Appeals, which rejected Elder’s remaining immunity argument, the case seeking compensation for false imprisonment was cleared to proceed on the merits.  Cisneros v. Elder, 522 P.3d 255 (Colo. Ct. App. 2022).

The ACLU amended the complaint to add a claim for violation of Mr. Cisneros's federally-protected constitutional rights.  Sheriff Elder removed the case to federal court.  El Paso County then made a formal “offer of judgment” for $25,000, which Mr. Cisneros accepted. The court formally entered judgment for Mr. Cisneros on March 16, 2023. 

ACLU news release:



Mark Silverstein, Arash Jahanian, Arielle Herzberg

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Stephen G. Masciocchi, Kyriaki Council, Peter A. Kurtz, Holland & Hart LLP